Infantile Eczema - Symptoms, Precautions and Treatment - Health Education - DesiMD Healthcare - India
Health Education

Infantile Eczema: A Dermatitis Condition

Dr.Surya Rao Poodipeddi profile Authored by Dr.Surya Rao Poodipeddi on 30 Jul 2014 - 14:48.

Eczema occurring in infants is known as infantile eczema. It is also known as atopic dermatitis. More than 10 percent of infants have eczema at some point but majority of these victims improve before they are 2 years old. Eczema is characterized by an itchy skin rash that can present itself on a baby’s delicate skin when the baby is as young as 2 months old.

It generally appears on the forehead, cheeks or scalp. Sometimes it may spread over the trunk and arms as well. The rash often shows up as a dry and thickened scaly skin. Often it is made up of tiny red bumps that may begin to ooze or become infected when the innocent child scratches the rash. It is believed to be a reaction to an allergy-causing substance known as allergen often found in the atmosphere around us.

Researchers have found out that this condition is inherited and therefore is more common in children born to parents (either mother or father or both) who have any kind of allergic conditions. It is also found that eczema may affect a child even if the child’s near relations have some allergic problems.


Infantile eczema often develops as an itchy red rash, on the cheeks which spreads over the entire body from the face, down the neck, arms and legs to the nappy region. The itchy sensation upsets the child and prevents the child from sleeping particularly at night.

The rash is normally dry, but if the skin is infected with bacteria, the eczema will begin to produce pus and is a dangerous sign. The child must be immediately taken to the dermatologist , and you should consult your doctor or a dermatologist if this occurs.

When the child is one-and-a-half to two-years old, the disease will follow a more typical pattern, with the rash appearing behind the knees and in the bends of the arms, wrists, ankles and neck.


Infantile eczema is normally diagnosed by visual appearance. The treatment aims at avoiding triggers that start the rash and to keep the skin moist with emollients /moisturizers to soothe the itching and the inflammation.

When Eczema becomes chronic and cannot be controlled with just moisturizers, steroid creams are prescribed which must be used only on the doctor’s advice.

Precautionary measures for a child having eczema are:

  • Bathe your baby only two or three times in a week to keep the skin from drying out.
  • Don’t be over enthusiastic to keep the child in the bath tub (regular or plastic tub, for longer periods). Limit the bath to just a few minutes.
  • Always keep the water lukewarm since very warm water aids dehydration to set in faster.
  • As soon as the baby is out of the tub pat the skin dry (never rub the skin with the towel) and apply some moisturizing cream straight away. The greasier the skin the better since it helps sealing the water that has been absorbed during the bath.
  • Don’t over dress the baby. Use cotton fabrics instead of synthetics. Cotton fabrics are more comfortable to the skin. Synthetics may cause allergy. Cotton fabrics also help the skin to breathe properly preventing excessive sweat.
  • Try to keep the child from scratching by cutting the nails short. Those who can afford can use cotton mittens available in all stores and pharmacies, on the hands to prevent scratching the affected areas. Using cotton socks helps.
  • Scratching can irritate the skin which invites infection. Infants have a tendency to rub her face against the crib sheet at night. Use the softest sheet possible as the crib sheet to minimize the friction due to rubbing.
  • Despite your best efforts, if the child continues to scratch which prevents her sleeping, seek pediatrician advice to use antihistamine drops which also help in sedation.

    The rash might keep recurring. In such cases you must consult a pediatrician who may advise as follows:

  • Eczema is linked to food allergies. Therefore you may need to delay introducing your baby to more common triggers like cow’s milk, eggs, wheat, soya, peanuts and fish (if non-vegetarians)
  • If the child continues on breast feeds it is advisable that you yourself avoid these foods since you could be passing the proteins on to your baby through your breast milk.
  • If the child is on formula feeds, doctors might suggest switching to soy-based foods though this might not always be the solution since soy itself may cause allergy. If the baby has started solids put all your efforts to identify which particular food item either causes or aggravates the rash by trial and error process and eliminate that item from the feeds.
  • On many occasions allergy triggers like pollen and animal dander can make eczema worse. In such an event you may need to consult an allergy specialist who is better placed to give tips on how to make your house relatively free from such triggers. These tips might include avoiding upholstered furniture and carpets.
  • Some of the skin products you use on the baby irritate the rashes you may need to avoid shampoos with fragrance and use only those meant for use on sensitive skin. You may also need to avoid strong detergents while washing the baby’s clothes and her bedding.
  • Only as a last resort, you may go in for a steroid ointment like across-the-counter, hydrocortisone cream which will work wonders and gives you breathing time to try other less harmful methods because prolonged use of steroids is harmful.
  • Though it is not true that “once eczema always eczema”, unfortunately some children may continue to have this problem throughout their lives. However, you can by all means keep the condition under control by following all the measures outlined above, besides being rigorous in avoiding exposure to allergens and any flare-ups on noticing them.
*Disclaimer: This is not medical advice. The content is for educational purposes only. Please contact your doctor for any health care issues.